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Trichosanthes cucumerina

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Snake gourd
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Cucurbitales
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Genus: Trichosanthes
T. cucumerina
Binomial name
Trichosanthes cucumerina
  • Anguina cucumerina (L.) Kuntze
  • Cucumis anguinus (L.) L.
  • Involucraria anguina (L.) M.Roem.
  • Trichosanthes ambrozii Domin
  • Trichosanthes anguina L.
  • Trichosanthes brevibracteata Kundu
  • Trichosanthes colubrina J.Jacq.
  • Trichosanthes cucumerina var. anguina (L.) Haines
  • Trichosanthes pachyrrhachis Kundu
  • Trichosanthes pedatifolia Miq.
  • Trichosanthes petala Buch.-Ham. ex Wall.

Trichosanthes cucumerina is a tropical or subtropical vine. Its variety T. cucumerina var. anguina raised for its strikingly long fruit. In Asia, it is eaten immature as a vegetable much like the summer squash and in Africa, the reddish pulp of mature snake gourd is used as an economical substitute for tomato.[2] Common names for the cultivated variety include snake gourd[note 1],[4] serpent gourd,[4] chichinda[4] padwal[4] and Snake Tomato[4].

Trichosanthes cucumerina is found in the wild across much of South and Southeast Asia, including India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar(Burma) and southern China (Guangxi and Yunnan).[5] It is also regarded as native in northern Australia.[6][7] and naturalized in Florida,[8] parts of Africa and on various islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.[9]

Formerly, the cultivated form was considered a distinct species, T. anguina, but it is now generally regarded as conspecific with the wild populations, as they freely interbreed:[1]

  • Trichosanthes cucumerina var. anguina (L.) Haines – cultivated variant
  • Trichosanthes cucumerina var. cucumerina – wild variant


Plant diagram

Trichosanthes cucumerina is a monoecious annual vine climbing by means of tendrils. Leaves are palmately lobed, up to 25 cm long. Flowers are unisexual, white, opening at night, with long branching hairs on the margins of the petals. These hairs are curled up in the daytime when the flower is closed, but unfurl at night to form a delicate lacy display (see photos in gallery below). Fruits can be up to 200 cm long, deep red at maturity, hanging below the vine.[1][4][5]

The related Japanese snake gourd (Trichosanthes pilosa, sometimes called T. ovigera or T. cucumeroides), very similar in vegetative morphology, but the fruit of T. pilosa is round to egg-shaped, only about 7 cm long.[10]





The common name "snake gourd" refers to the narrow, twisted, elongated fruit. The soft-skinned immature fruit can reach up to 150 cm (59 in) in length. It is soft, bland, somewhat mucilaginous flesh is similar to that of the luffa and the calabash. It is popular in the cuisines of South Asia and Southeast Asia and is now grown in some home gardens in Africa.

In the different regions of South Asia, it's quite common and is known by various names like:-

  • Hindi- chechenḍa/chichinḍa (चेचेण्डा/चिचिण्डा)
  • Punjabi- gala tori (ਗਲਾ ਤੋਰੀ)
  • Garhwali-chachenḍa (चचेंण्डा)
  • Gujarati- panḍoḷnu (પંડોળું)
  • Nepali- chichinno (चिचिन्नो)
  • Marathi- paḍwaḷ (पडवळ)
  • Konkani- poḍḍaḷe (पोड्डळे)
  • Bengali- chichinga (চিচিঙ্গা)
  • Odia- chhachindra (ଛଚିନ୍ଦ୍ରା)
  • Assamese- dhunduli (ধুন্দুলি)
  • Tamil- puḍalangai (புடலங்காய)
  • Kannada- paḍavalkai (ಪಡವಲಕಾಯಿ)
  • Telugu- poṭlakaya (పొట్లకాయ)
  • Malayalam- paḍavalanga (പടവലങ്ങ)
  • Tulu- paṭla kay (ಪಟ್ಲ ಕಾಯ್)
  • Meitei- lin manbi (ꯂꯤꯟ ꯃꯥꯅꯕꯤ)
  • Sinhala- pathola (පතෝල)

With some cultivars, the immature fruit has an unpleasant odor and a slightly bitter taste, both of which disappear in cooking. The fruit becomes too bitter to eat as it reaches maturity, but it does contain a reddish pulp that is used in Africa as a substitute for tomatoes.[9][11] The shoots, tendrils and leaves are also eaten as greens.


See also



  1. ^ Robinson and Decker-Walters (1997[3]) p. 203-206: "Snake gourd" preferred name for Trichosanthes cucumerina, and Trichosanthes cucumerina preferred definition for "snake gourd".
  2. ^ Robinson and Decker-Walters (1997[3]) p. 203-206: "Chinese snake gourd" preferred name for Trichosanthes kirilowii, and Trichosanthes kirilowii preferred definition for "chinese snake gourd".
  3. ^ Robinson and Decker-Walters (1997[3]) p. 203-206: "Japanese snake gourd" preferred name for Trichosanthes ovigera, and Trichosanthes ovigera preferred definition for "japanese snake gourd".
  4. ^ Decker-Walters (1996[12]): "Gourd - Lagenaria. (...) Longissima (Baton, Long Club, Italian Edible, Cucuzzi, Cucuzzi Caravazzi, Snake, Flute, Serpent) - Vendor: Vilmorin. Characteristics: similar to Hercules Club but longer, edible at 1' long x 2" diameter but will grow to 6' long; from Italy. Similar: Hercules Club. 1885"


  1. ^ a b c The Plant List, Trichosanthes cucumerina
  2. ^ Kew Gardens. Snake gourd Trichosanthes cucumerina var. anguina. http://www.kew.org/support-kew/adopt-a-seed/trichosanthes-cucumerina-var-anguina.htm
  3. ^ a b c Robinson RW and DS Decker-Walters. 1997. Appendix: Common Cucurbit Names and their Scientific Equivalents. in: Cucurbits. CAB International, USA.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Martins, Chukwuebuka (2023-07-12). "Top 8 Health Benefits Of Snake Gourd (Snake Tomato)". Retrieved 2023-07-12.
  5. ^ a b Flora of China v 19 p 38, Trichosanthes cucumerina
  6. ^ Florabase, the Western Australia Flora, Trichosanthes cucumerina
  7. ^ Coopper, Wendy E., & Hugo J. DeBoer. 2011. A taxonomic revision of Trichosanthes L. (Cucurbitaceae) in Australia, including one new species from Northern Territory. Austrobaileya 8:364-386.
  8. ^ United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Plants Profile, Trichosanthes cucumerina, snakegourd
  9. ^ a b Prota 2, Vegetables/Légumes, Trichosanthes cucumerina L.
  10. ^ Flora of China v 19 p 45, Trichosanthes cucumeroides
  11. ^ Kew Gardens Millennium Seed Bank, the weird and wonderful snake gourd Archived 2013-10-14 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ DS Decker-Walters (ed., 1996-2010) Vegetable Cultivar Descriptions for North America. Gourd - Lagenaria, Lists 1-26 Combined. In: Cucurbit Breeding. Horticultural Science.